What Happens When Your CC Subscription Expires?

I accidentally let my Creative Cloud subscription lapse. Here’s what happens in Lightroom.

One concern that photographers have with the new Lightroom CC application is not just that their originals are copied to Creative Cloud, but the consequence of what happens if they decide to cancel their CC subscriptions. Are the photos gone? If not, are the edits intact?

Thanks to an oversight on my part, I just found out. My Creative Cloud subscription expired today, and even though Adobe is good about popping up reminders counting down to the last day, I’ve been dismissing them to do other, seemingly more important things.

When I launched Lightroom CC today, this is what I saw:

Cc expiration renew1

The Lightroom CC application itself was more friendly, and it also explains what happens: the originals are stored for 366 days.

Cc expiration renew2

Lightroom Classic’s message is more old-school in appearance and wording:

Cc expiration classic1

If you’re really done with Lightroom and Creative Cloud, clicking Download Your Originals in Lightroom CC gives you the option to grab the files and choose a location to store them. (I have a local backup, so I wouldn’t need to take this step. I clicked Cancel.)

Cc expiration download

However, as far as I can see, that’s the only mechanism for downloading images within the application. If you don’t take that opportunity to get the originals, you need to install the Adobe Lightroom Downloader app.

The original, unedited files are downloaded to your disk. Edits are stored in XMP sidecar files. If you synced images that originated in Lightroom Classic, those images are downloaded as edited Smart Previews (because Classic uploads only Smart Previews).

Being on the other side of the subscriber fence doesn’t lock you out of Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic. You can still browse your library. However, you cannot edit:

Cc expiration edit disabled lrcc

Of course, I wanted to re-subscribe—I just published the first book about Lightroom CC, Take Control of Lightroom CC! Once my order was placed on the Web, opening Lightroom CC was just the same as it was yesterday, before I’d inadvertently put myself into this situation.


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